Song for Joe: written during the Israeli Palestine conflict May 2021

Song for Joe

Nora had not been dead long when her cottage
was burned down
Her net curtains at the small windows still
the sacred heart of Jesus on the wall
looking down
The charred reed fell but the walls still
withstood the wind somewhat
The fireplace and the chimney tower remained
with ash and beech growing from out the roof
The heart on the wall
unrecognizable now
Her native roses round the door
unpruned and wild

On the parked car radio
the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Protests at the UN about a disproportionate use of force
on an imprisoned unsettled and despised people
The retired teacher’s son is here to mind
his father’s sheep that rarely stray from the walled fields
There is a supermarket wrapper blowing about
with a half eaten sandwich in it and ants
a long trail of ants

He cuts out the car engine
the radio falls dead
Some undefined thing makes him
explore the old house
The smell is rancid it hits him
in the stomach’s pit like fear does
He is used to slurry and the smell of sheep
this is different it’s human

The young traveller’s body is huddled
in the corner of the fire place
His head leans back on the blackened stone
his open eyes looking up to the hole in the sky
There are flies the smell of urine and vomit
the other smell is because his body has been here
for some days now
Long past the best before date
of his half eaten sandwich

I think of him now laid out
on the slab of the morgue
Washed clean smelling of whatever
pathologists use
Totally naked his young genitals exposed
black hair on a pale skin ribs showing through
His eyes closed in the scruff
of his half handsome face
The eaten half of the sandwich examined
his foot labelled Joe and a family name
The chemical identified
that travelled through his unsettled body
Like god’s rocket for a despised people

One thought on “Song for Joe: written during the Israeli Palestine conflict May 2021

  1. Having seen some of what Palestinians must live with, and having a friend named Nora in Belfast, this poem took me deeper. Thank you, Tony.


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